The Vatican has taken back the statement by the Pope that atheists who do good will not be tortured for all eternity. The Pope recently said:
“If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” -Pope Francis
Well, nobody is perfect. Turns out the Pope was wrong, at least according to a Vatican spokesperson:
“All salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body, hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her.” -Rev. Thomas Rosica
While the Pope has yet to retract his statement, Jesus issued an apology for saying that “God sends love indiscriminately on the just and the unjust,” and implying that “all who love know God.”
“I spoke out of line,” said the Savior, “God’s love isn’t strong like gravity that works whether you believe in it or not. God’s love only works if you believe, kind of like Santa. I apologize if my words made it sound like God or I can save people who have not come through the official channels of the church. Of course, you must be dipped in the magic water and eat the magic crackers or God and I can do nothing. I am deeply sorry and apologize to all who were offended when I implied that God is bigger or stronger than the Institutional Church. I only hope the sacred clergy of the church can find it in their hearts to forgive me for loving people they have not officially approved.”
I have never believed that only “Christians” can see God.Why would our great God make all the wonderful people of the world-only to love a fraction of them? It makes no sense at all.I have known atheist that are better “Christians” than some “Christians” are.I hope the Pope sticks to his original statement!
This very short article relates what the new Pope has actually said and many are hoping he will not cave and retract his statement of who can and can’t be ‘saved.’ Then the author cleverly uses sarcasm for an imaginary apology from Jesus because he too made plain statements which imply some may be in for a big surprise as to who all God is able to save. Fifty years ago many Catholics and Protestants would have agreed that the Pope(and maybe even Jesus) misspoke but I think more and more people are recognizing God is far larger than our personal or church group ‘plans of salvation.’ Such changes I think demonstrate that our internalized ‘image of God’ in the West is changing, is maturing to a far larger God. We can hope so.
It is a reality of any institution that it strives relentlessly very effectively to shape those persons who are part of it. It holds out power, prestige, and the comfort of “belonging” to those who participate in it. Some of us succumb to those inducements and become creatures of the institution, molded by it so that we will be acceptable to it and successful in it. Others find ourselves shaped differently. We truly believe that, if we can achieve a place and power within the institution we can be a force for change and renewal. But, by the time we achieve the place and the power, on the institution’s terms, we have been shaped by the institution. I would love to hear the Pope say, “I stand by my original statement!” But I am not expecting it.
The other way to relate to institutions is to live in creative resistance to thm, , often with one foot out the door.
If our loyalty is to the institution, even, if we believe we can work within for change, we will discover it is a question of means and ends. The ends never do justify the means. As a matter of fact, the means shape the ends. I think that is a big part of the Gospel stories of Jesus’ wilderness temptations. It would have been easy to succumb to the temptation to take the power offered. What good could surely be done with all that power!! But the story is of someone for whom means and ends are inseparable.
The Pope wouldn’t be Pope unless he had leant himself to continual shaping by the institution he serves. But that is nothing compared to what will be brought to bear on him now. And, of course, he will be tempted to think some compromise, perhaps a little less rocking of the boat, will enable him to do more good in the long run.
My concern is that he has already had more direct contact with and exposure to the poor, the powerless, the beauty of the diversity of the human family than he will ever have again. There will be too many institutional barriers now between him and those contacts and experiences that were part if his life before.
For Oscar Romero, it was the opposite. He lived a rathersheltered, protected life in El Salvador, at a distance from the plight of the people, before he was elected Arcbishop. Afterwards, his priests made sure he saw, heard, experienced the pain of the people. That was a powerfully shaping process.
But this Pope will be surrounded by servants of the status quo. That will be his dominant experience. Those will be the dominant voices. He will have to be creative and determined if he is to stay in touch with some of the influences that have gotten through the institutional walls in the past. It is not impossible; but it is also not likely.
I began doubting the dogma that we could be saved only by accepting Jesus Christ as our lord and savior when I was a child. Why? Well, I knew that many people never heard about Jesus because they lived and died long before Jesus did OR they lived in a remote area of the world that had yet to be propagandized by Christian missionaries. I didn’t think God would damn millions of people to hell for not knowing about Jesus. Now, I understand that Jesus was killed because of his radical teachings about love, forgiveness and the Sermon on the Mount. The Romans and the Jews could not allow him to continue drawing followers that might well rise up against the powers-that-were and depose them. Interestingly, many Jewish and Roman laws were broken in the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. It made me think about Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Lynn Stewart, who are being held illegally and denied their constitutional rights by those who are supposed to uphold the laws. You can read more about Jesus’s trial as written by a contemporary judge and edited by a lawyer at http://www.jurisdictionary.com.
Could this lead “back” to a doctrine of “salvation by works” or are we talking simply about “universal salvation”? Maybe the Pope was not talking about salvation at all but just getting along with one another. 5/31/13, 19:20 CDT
Bob, Good question. That’s what theologians have been arguing about. He used the word “redeemed” which would generally imply some salvific element. What would redemption mean if you burned in hell afterward? Everyone is waiting for him to clarify. Of course, the whole topic depends on a belief in a literal hell which leaves a lot of us out of the loop. Thanks as always for your thoughtful response.